‘Crisis point’ - Concern at continued growth of second home sales in Suffolk

Southwold has a particularly high concentration of second homes Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Southwold has a particularly high concentration of second homes Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A fifth of homes purchased in Suffolk last year were bought as second properties or rental investments, figures show.

HMRC data shows 3,190 were bought in 2017-18, accounting for 21% of all sales – higher in coastal areas and Ipswich.

The number also increased 20% on the previous year, despite the Government’s introduction of 3% stamp duty to deter buy-to-let and second home owners.

David Beavan, who has been elected to represent Southwold on the town and district council following a campaign to cut down on a holiday home “loophole”, said he was not surprised by the figures. “In Southwold, it is the other way round – one in five properties are bought to live in,” he added. “Good news for people who want a return on their pension pot, bad news for communities like ours. We are now at crisis point with 60% second homes in the town.

Mr Beavan warned second-home owners were registering properties as holiday-lets and claiming small business rate relief to pay no tax.

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Campaigners say it is costing millions in lost income. North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb recently lodged a petition calling for the Chancellor to “end this outrageous tax loophole” in the Budget this autumn.

Estate agents say second home owners still help the region’s tourism economy.

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Richard Brown, of Flick & Son, which is in Southwold, Aldeburgh, Leiston and Saxmundham, said the market place in Suffolk was “very robust”.

“The Suffolk coast remains extremely popular,” he added. “We get a lot of people coming from the south east, looking for a better quality of life.”

Mr Brown said that many people were choosing to invest in property, which was seen as a safe option during times of economic and political uncertainty. The rise in “staycations”, driven by poor exchange rates, had also made the Suffolk coast popular.

Lawrence Bowles at Savills, said first-time buyers are still at a “fundamental disadvantage”, despite the new tax. He said: “First time buyers will typically be buying with a mortgage, and buy-to-let landlords will often have the money in their account, ready to go. In total, around £91 million was collected from stamp duty in Suffolk last year.

The Treasury said the Government’s priority is to “support first time buyers”.

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